Boston University Professor Sparks Controversy Over Tweets Denounced As Racist and Sexist

GrundyPic-150x150Boston_University_seal.svgWhile Professor Saida Grundy has not actually started teaching at Boston University, she is already facing calls for her removal from the faculty. After being hired by BU, Grundy let loose with a series of tweets that are denounced as racist and sexist. Grundy tweeted, for example, “White masculinity isn’t a problem for america’s colleges, white masculinity is THE problem for america’s colleges.” The tweets have triggered a debate over whether there is a double standard for such comments and whether such comments should be treated as protected speech.

In a January tweet, Grundy wrote: “Every MLK week I commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible.” Previously, she posted comments like“Deal with your white sh*t, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing.”

Brundy is expected to start teaching in June and Boston University spokesman Colin Riley insisted “Professor Grundy is exercising her right to free speech and we respect her right to do so.”

The controversy has raised the question of whether a white professor denouncing blacks or females as the problem on college campuses would be viewed as suitable to teach. We have seen offers withdrawn after newly hired professors posted anti-Israeli tweets. Likewise, there were demands for the termination of a math professor at Rochester for controversial comments about rape.

The question is where to draw the line. As might be expected, I tend to gravitate instinctively toward free speech in most of these cases, including the most recent involving Professor Grundy. While I find her comments bizarre and biased, she made these comments in social media and has not been accused of treating white or male students in a discriminatory or abusive manner. Indeed, she has not taught any students at BU. The key however is that the school must be prepared to show the same tolerance for the next professor who makes what are viewed as racist or sexist comments of a different kind. The concern is that colleges and universities are engaging in selective enforcement and content-based regulation of speech. Ironically, Grundy may lay the foundation for a future lawsuit at the school if it proceeds against a white racist or a sexist professor. Her retention would be evidence that could be used in a case of disparate treatment.

What do you think?

57 thoughts on “Boston University Professor Sparks Controversy Over Tweets Denounced As Racist and Sexist”

  1. Are there seriously people who would equate these very necessary and appropriate comments to those of racists and rape apologists? If so, shame on them. They are the problem.

    Many people in 1930’s Germany thought of Hitler’s comments as appropriate.

  2. Prof. Turley,

    Please, for the love of all things holy, grow some balls. This is not a free speech issue. No intelligent person has yet said–or would ever say–that this racist pig, Grundy, *shouldn’t* have the right to say exactly what she said, or even anything infinitely worse. But as The Dude said, “This is not a first amendment thing, man.”

    The first issue is the obvious one: should the University allow an overt racist to “teach” and agitate for whatever else she’s likely to agitate for under the auspices of its good name? Just as you would fire a paralegal working for you who tweeted vile, racist comments while in your employ, especially if they were brought to the public’s attention–whether or not the tweets had anything to do with your law practice–so should the University rescind Grundy’s offer. Quite simply, employing a known racist is tacit approval of, or at least acquiescence to, her racist views. If this weren’t America’s societal standard, people would spend a lot less time bringing people’s racist statements to those people’s employers.

    Next, is it reasonable to assume this overt racist will preach racist claptrap in the classroom? We have hard evidence suggesting she probably will. Should the University pay a salary for a racist to operate and spread her hate, or in any other way enable her racist messaging?

    Lastly, your point about “she said it on Twitter, she hasn’t done anything wrong in the classroom” is weak sauce. If a sitting judge were to Tweet out a strong opinion about some social issue or other, and then a few months later hear a case on that very issue, would anyone seriously suggest the judge is suitable to preside over the case? And is she not the “judge” of the students’ work? I know the University is not necessarily bound by the same standards as the courtroom, but the cause for concern is the same because the logic is the same. As you well know, if the Tweets had said “I hate niqqers”, there would be nothing to discuss here, and it is highly unlikely you would publicly be saying “she made these comments on social media and has not been accused of blah blah blah”.

    And so I say, grow some balls, sir. Stand up for what is right. This is simple human decency here. A racist pig should not be sanctioned by a University community, and she sure as hell shouldn’t be given the opportunity to judge, critique, or shape student thinking when she has demonstrated with clear and compelling evidence she has certain strongly-held, negative biases about a sizable segment of the student population.

  3. Slavery is a black on pygmy thing in Mother Africa. Pick on someone your own size, blacktards. Don’t punch down.

  4. If Saida gets fired from BU, she can always go back to making her videos on youtube.

    Who said that she wasn’t talented?

  5. Let them all rip….while I generally agree with Grundy, hearing opposite views wouldn’t trouble me much (tho I’m not a minority…) and the court of public opinion needs the fresh air of candor to do its work.

  6. “Deal with your white sh*t, white people. slavery is a *YALL* thing.”

    And then they wonder why white students don’t sign up for African American Studies courses….

  7. I wonder if this person would demand free speech for those like Ernst Zundel and Sylvia Stolz, two Germans who were incarcerated for mere mention of the Holocaust, indeed, the HoloHoax. Would she fight for the reinstatement of Dr. Norman Finklestein to his job at DePaul University despite his feelings expressed in his book, “The Holocaust Industry”?
    If not, it’s pretty clear she’d be your average ten cent racist trying to be noticed despite her junior academic credentials. I wonder how she feels toward Sharpton, Farakkhan and the Palestinians?

    Give her a chance to state her beliefs. We’ll see pretty rapidly just what she’s all about.

  8. Worse than the racism is the simple-minded sledgehammer shotgun mentality, it is severely lacking in the kind of intellectual depth and precision that should be required for a professor.

    We now have a culture in which most racists are called out and shamed, lives in shambles as with Donald Sterling. BUT there is a huge disconnect between that public abhorrence of racism, and the insidious subconscious racism that still affects both white AND black people that results in mass incarceration, poverty, lack of education, etc. We need intellectuals and behavior SCIENTISTS offering real solutions to address that psychology, not someone shouting simpleminded incendiary racist bombast.

  9. I’m a white male and I think she sounds interesting. Kudos to her for voicing her viewpoint, and to BU for not censoring mere speech.

  10. One of the students at BU called her a “retard” for writing such things. Then the student got castigated for using that term. So he corrected himself and said that she was “emotionally discharged”. That got him in trouble because some said that it meant that she pooped her brains out. It went on and on and the debate is fast and furious at BU. I read all of this on-line on a website called

  11. I doubt the university would be so willing to publicly defend her free speech rights if she was Asian or white and said the same rants about black people.

    I don’t see these events as being helpful to the university if in the future it receives a tort claim from a future student claiming they were marginalized by a faculty member on account of race.

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